Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Times
By Noelia Veras
After Simone Biles shocked the world by stepping down from competing at the Olympics to prioritize her health and well-being, audiences watched in anticipation of what Team USA would do to remedy the situation. The team stepped up and was able to win the silver medal for the Team All-Around competitions. As for the individual all-around competition, it was Team USA member Suni Lee that got the gold.
Lee finished first with a score of 57.44, and Brazil’s Rebecca Andrade finished second with a score of 57.298. Russia’s Angelina Melnikova won the bronze.
With Biles stepping down for the individual all-around, Lee was in a unique position, as many believed she would place second behind Biles.
“I was coming in to take a silver spot, but I feel like I just kind of went out there and did it for myself,” Lee said. “I didn’t really focus on the scoreboard. Wasn’t focusing on any of that, because it just wasn’t going to be a good competition if I did so, yeah, it’s crazy.”
Many watched Biles in shock as she stepped down, and gymnastics certainly garnered more attention because of her decision to not compete, but her choice carried great significance for spectators and athletes alike. All of Team USA’s accomplishments at the Olympics stand out as a result.
“[T]he outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before,” Biles tweeted.
Despite the setbacks Biles experienced, she was able to compete on the beam during the last day of the competition for event finals. Biles won a bronze medal for this event, and according to ESPN, she officially tied with Shannon Miller as the most decorated Olympian in American gymnastics history, although it should be noted that Biles has more gold medals than Miller.
Jade Carey also stepped up during the tail-end of the Games. She came into the competition as an individual gymnast, but after Biles stepped down, Carey competed with Team USA for the team all-around competition. Later in the games, she finished eighth on the vault after making a mistake but quickly recovered by winning the gold medal for floor routine.
“Coming back from a day like yesterday, I’m really proud of myself for being able to put that behind me and finish with probably the best floor routine I’ve ever done in my life,” Carey said, according to CNN.
MyKayla Skinner was another gymnast that audiences talked about, as she came into the competition as an individual gymnast, and after not placing in the vault event finals, she was done at the Olympics. However, with Biles stepping down Skinner got one last shot to get an Olympic medal. Skinner finished on the vault with a score of 14.916, earning her a silver medal.
“I wasn’t expecting any of this to happen,” Skinner said.
Skinner’s journey to the Olympics was unconventional, as she went on to pursue collegiate gymnastics which is usually the end of most gymnasts careers. However, Skinner decided to train for the Olympics and proved many spectators wrong by going to the Games in the first place. The 24-year-old is the oldest woman to make it to the Olympics representing USA gymnastics.
Overall, Team USA gymnastics had an unconventional path that is sure to make history. Regardless of the medals and glory, Biles impacted people on a deep level, proving to the world that she is a human being. Lee, Carey, and Skinner won unexpected but well deserved awards. Every member of Team USA went home with at least one medal and made their country proud.